Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Good News Bad News

 

November 1, 2017 | View PDF



We have all heard the Good News Bad News jokes.

One of my favorites is this one:

Doctor: I have good news and bad news.

Patient: Tell me the good news first.

Doctor: You have 24 hours to live.

Patient: What!?! How can that be good news? So, What is the bad news?

Doctor: I forgot to tell you yesterday!

My wife, Janeese, and I went on an exploratory trip to Uganda and Kenya this past Summer with Compassion International. We learned so much about the current plight of children in various parts of Africa and what Compassion International is doing to minister to children and families. As you would imagine, the needs are tremendous. We visited a number of slums in the cities and also very poor communities in the rural areas as well.

The bad news was quite evident. Everywhere we turned it seemed there was an ocean of children living in extreme poverty. Each stop along the journey, we wanted to adopt or sponsor another child through Compassion International.

The good news is that Compassion International and the many local churches they work through are making a huge difference in the lives of over two million different children in 23 different countries. We got to meet and hear the testimonies of many of those who had been sponsored children who are now young adults with a great education making a difference in their own communities and their countries.

We also had the joy and privilege of meeting a beautiful six year old little girl named Jovia in Uganda. We decided to sponsor her through Compassion International. For $37 per month we will provide her with food, clothes, tuition for school, school books, the Compassion International child development program and medical care. We are so excited to see how God will use this support to bless, strengthen and prepare her for her future. The good news is that we can make a huge difference in her life, along with the millions of other sponsors supporting other children.

Another piece of good news I learned on this mission adventure is that the rate of extreme poverty in the world has been cut by 74.1% since 1990. In 1990, there were 1.9 billion people (37.1% of the global population) living in extreme poverty according to USAID and the World Bank. Extreme poverty is defined by someone who lives on less than $1.90 per day. In 2015, there were 702 million people living in extreme poverty (9.6% of the global population). That is a 74.1% decline in extreme poverty in 25 years.

While 702 million people living in extreme poverty is still unacceptable, the good news is that we are seeing the huge impact of the collective efforts of a multitude of churches, nonprofits, other religious organizations and government agencies as we focus on eradicating extreme poverty! That my friends is Good News!

As we discovered in our recent trip to Uganda and Kenya, there is good news to celebrate regarding aggressive efforts to eliminate extreme poverty from the face of the earth. But there are still countless millions that need our prayers, help and support. No doubt it can seem overwhelming as it did to us when we saw so many poor children in great need all around us in Africa. However, I would remind us all of the words of Mother Teresa: "I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time-just one, one ,one. So you begin. "

So, where do you begin? What can you do? What one person can you love, help or serve? Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the multitudes of those in need. Don't throw up your hands in frustration and settle to do nothing. Start with one person. Pray for them. Invest in them. Serve them. Empower them. If you do it in the name of Christ, it can and will make a difference!

An old man walked along the seashore where thousands of starfish had washed up on the beach and were dying in the hot sun. He came upon a little boy who was picking up starfish and throwing them back into the sea in an effort to save them. The old man said, "Son, what are you doing? Why are you wasting your time. There are far too many for you to rescue. What difference will it make? The little boy picked up another one of the starfish. He looked at it a moment, and then threw it back into the sea saying, "it makes a difference to this one."

The Good News is you can make a difference! One person at a time! You might start with the people nearest you and, then, perhaps, by something as simple and beautiful as sponsoring a child through Compassion International! Wouldn’t that be a great thing for you and your family to prayerfully consider during these Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays which are fast upon us!

I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from the scriptures:

"But if a person has enough to live on, and yet when they see a brother or sister in need and shuts up their heart against them, how can it be said that God's love dwells in them? My children, love must not be a matter of words or talk alone, it must be genuine and show itself in action."

-John, 1 John 3:17-19

Blessings,

Lester Spencer

Lead Pastor

Saint James UMC

 

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